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This article is taken from PN Review 16, Volume 7 Number 2, November - December 1980.

Richard Wilbur
I have known people-editors, critics, scholars-who belatedly wished to write stories or poems and could not. Why not? Because (aside from the matter of talent) they were stuck with an inhibiting belief in the superiority of rational analysis to artistic invention. I. A. Richards may once have thought of poetry as a word-game of limited validity, but by the time he began to write it-excitedly, expertly, sometimes at the rate of one a day-he was sure of its primacy as our completest mode of utterance. Do his poems, formidably brainy as they often are, bring a 'whole soul' into activity? Certainly: souls differ, thank heaven. I. A. Richards once noted, with reference to Pound, that a stupid man may write great poems; so may a brilliant one. What we do not have in I. A. Richards's poems is rhymed and metered philosophic wisdom. Rather we have the mind in full speculative action, its behavior not separable from moods, affections, scenes, situations, persons, and a respect for mystery. His poems will long be prized because, within them, thinking becomes not a discrete function but a high-spirited adventure of the entire man.

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